tv The Cycle MSNBC November 9, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm EST
the bush tax cuts and other issues that could cost americans thousands of dollars more in taxes if a deal is not reached. the breaking news we brought you involving general david petraeus the head of the cia saying he's resigning from that position in the wake of an extra-marital affair. that does it. "the cycle" is up next. second hour. this is one of the biggest conundrums facing the gop. what happens when the minority voters have the power of the majority? >> bombshell political news. cia director david petraeus is resigning admitting to an
extra-marital affair. andrea mitchell just broke this story, and cease going to provide us with new details ahead. >> all that plus has the obama presidency been good for black people? we have a guest that says not really. buckle up. you're in "the cycle" for friday, november 9th. so the election is behind us, and it's time to confront the fiscal cliff, or as we at "the cycle" call it until we invent poetic phrasing, the gradual fiscal slope. whatever you want to call it, it's staring you in the face. two hours ago the president flanked by middle class taxpayers said this in the white house east room. >> the american people voted for action, not politics as usual. our job now is to get the majority of congress to reflect the will of the american people. what the american people are looking for is cooperation. they're looking for consensus. they're looking for common
sense. most of all, they want action. >> the president has invited congressional leaders to the white house next week to start negotiations. he's made it clear that the election is a message that the people won't compromise. >> i intend to work with both parties to do more. i'm not wedded to every detail of my plan. i'm open to compromise. i'm open to new ideas. but i refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced. but, as i've said before, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. if we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue. p that means asking the wealthiest americans to pay a little more in taxes. >> kristen welker is outside the white house right now. we heard what the president had to say. give us the behind of scenes color of the speech. why today, and why now? >> reporter: toure, good afternoon. it's customary for presidents just re-elected to hold press
conferences. former president clinton did that. former president george w. bush held a press conference two days after he was re-elected. president obama not holding a news conference and doing something much safer, which is to make a statement, and no questions today. by the way, white house press secretary jay carney was hammered about that point. the press asked why president obama didn't answer questions today. carney said he will hold a full press conference in a couple of days. i think that president obama wanted to address the nation because he was just re-elected. i think that he wanted to really set a tone here, toure, of bipartisanship as you pointed out. that was a big part of his comments. what struck me about the president's comments, he basically said he believes he has a mandate. he didn't use the word "manda , "mandate," but he said the americans agreed with his approach. his approach as he pointed out
in his comments to increase taxes on the wealthy and to slash taxes for those making less. i think that was the president's goal. he wanted to do it in a safe environment. toure. >> thanks, kristen. right now we have andrea mitchell that broke the story about general petraeus resigning because of an extra-marital affair. andrea, tell us what's going on. >> sorry. there's a lot of noise that's going on in the newsroom. my apologies. a letter that he has sent to the work force says that he has made a terrible mistake and has had an extra-marital affair, that this compromises not just the judgment of his personal life but clearly the kind of service in the silent service, the cia, and it was an untenable situation and he has resigned and that the president has accepted that resignation, tour reechlt toure. >> andrea, what else do you know about what's going on right for you with general petraeus? >> we know that the letter has gone out to the work force to
tell them that this was all about his personal indiscretion. the clear signal is that this was not about benghazi. he's not resigning as any kind of admission of flaws or faults in the intelligence gathering on benghazi. although there will be in the house and senate a continuing series of hearings. there is going to be an intelligence committee next week, and he was supposed to be one of the witnesses. apparently he met with the president on this, and the president has accepted his he resignation. this is the four-star general that led our forces in iraq and afghanistan who came into the administration retired from the military, and took the offer from the president to be the cia director in april of 2011. he will be succeeded temporarily by the depth see cia director, a career veteran widely regarded, highly respected michael morrell.
toure. >> thank you, andrea. let's go to colonel jack jacobs. this is shocking news. we don't expect this from a man like general petraeus, with the reputation he's had. what light can you shed on what's going on? >> very little, actually. it's such a shock to everybody. i've known him for 40 years, and i've known his wife for the same amount of time. her father was a superintendent of the united states military academy at the time i was teaching on the faculty there in 1973 to 1976. a fabulous soldier, extremely well respected and so on. it's very, very sad for the cia, for his family, for the united states of america. it's very sad to see. >> colonel, you just mentioned there it's very sad loss for the cia. andrea had mentioned he's likely to be sux seeded by the deputy cia trektor. what does it mean it nerms of transition of power? >> we've had transitions at the
cia at the top levels on and off since the inception, and by and large it's not a significant impact on the operations in the organization. it doesn't mean that who the director is is not important. it certainly is important. certainly in its wide her reach with the congress and other parts of the executive branch, but in terms of the operating -- the operations of the organization, it's not as significant as some people might feel and indeed there's an argument that says the deputy director and the operations director are the people that really rung the organization in the first place and changing the direction of the cia is not going to have very much impact on the organization. i hope that that's true, and i expect it will be true. >> i have to say, it's a little jarring to think in the year 2012 somebody resigning just for an extra-marital affair. do you think it's possible the issue here is more that he sees this as a personal and moral failing and needs to resign and
doesn't have the integrity or it's an issue of blackmail here or the potential for blackmail? >> it may be all of those things. i don't mean blackmail, but maybe pressure from other parts of the government. i'm not a fan of single factor analysis and therefore i embrace all of which you say and perhaps more. at the end of day, the perception ought to be whatever bad news there is is going to come out in any case. the russians have an old saying, bad news doesn't get any better with age. eventually it resembles a herry in the moonlight. it shines, people can stee ee id it stinks. eventually it will come out, and this is one of those things. the easiest thing in the world. i know it seems like the hard thing to do, but actually the best thing in the world to do, if there's bad news to get it out as quickly as possible. in that way the commander, the boss and you can take care of it as quickly as possible and expunge it from the public record as quickly as possible.
it's only when it becomes a matter of argument in the press it becomes extremely dangerous. he clearly did the right thing, the perception it was going to come out in some fashion and in some form the best thing to do is get it out now and resign. >> jack, susan delpersio, when we look at general jack petraeus resigning and hillary clinton is coming out and panetta is set to go out. can this administration handle that much emptiness so quickly? >> that's a good question, too. one likes to see absolutely no turmoil. i spent a lot of time in the banking business, and the way people made money was if there was turmoil. when things are quiet, they're much better for the average person, much more difficult for somebody who is trying to make money. what we don't want to see in government, particularly at a difficult time, is turmoil. under normal circumstances there is usually a change in the guard
in the middle between the two administrations, the first and the second. frequently there's a change after two years and we're liable to see this again in the normal course of events. the president sometimes likes to change his team. this is an instance when a secretary of state said, i'll wait until you get somebody else and get him confirmed, but i'm leaving. a lot of other people will do the same, only because that's a standard. it's tiring to be in that business at the top of the apex. this is no different in that regard. the difficulty here is that not only are a lot of people going to change their jobs, but in addition to that, we're in an extremely difficult period. we have trouble with the budget. the congress has not cooperated. we have bigger threats and a larger number of threats at a time when we have been the we weakest everybody in the world. this is a tough time to change, but if you do it, now is the
time to do it before it becomes too much of a problem. you don't want to change in the middle of crisis. now is a good time to start and finish changing. >> colonel jack, thank you for that. let's go to chuck todd in the white house briefing room. what do you have for us on this petraeus situation? >> well, i can tell you there are a lot of people at the white house that they were -- you could tell that they -- either what they knew or didn't know about the reason for petraeus's resignation or proposed resignation over the last few hours, because they were careful to say the president didn't ask for his resignation. we want to make that clear. never asked for his resignation. once it went public as to the preen for the resignation, now you see there was certainly plenty of before the reasoning before this there was plenty of behind of scenes hand wringing over some concern about the cia and the whole benghazi situation and libya. that's why i think at first there was a lot of wondering if that was connected to that. it's clear now, because i had
kept having people tell me, look, this is not a forced resignation. this is not the president trying to fire david petraeus. there's nothing along that lines, and now we know why. >> chuck, i'm sorry to hit you with this, if you don't know the answer. you say it's not a firing, but you bring up benghazi and make me think other people will be cynical and maybe it has to do with benghazi and perhaps the investigation coming up. is that too cynical? >> i'm as much of a skeptic at as anybody. let's remember, when it comes to the cia, this is always the number one concern on black male situations, compromising intelligence. this is what folks in this side in mcclain always worry about with their agents and concerned about those things. so you cannot have the head of the cia somehow not playing by the same rules. so i think this is one of those cases that this is on the level, because there is a zero tolerance when it comes to the
cia for this because, again, if you're an operative and you put yourself in a compromising situation like this, of an extra-marital -- when it comes to the intelligence committee, extra-marital affairs are considered putting yourself in a compromising situation. you could proceed economize your own intelligence gathering possibilities, put the lives of other folks in danger. this is -- i think this is a case where that's on the level. there's no doubt there was some -- there's been some con stern nation over here and at the state department about what could the cia have put together a better intelligence briefing faster? was there a little bit of the case where the cia was acting like the cya. there's plenty of folks that were not happy with the cia's being -- their reports right around the benghazi situation in that week running up. again, this is a case, you know, of all places where you cannot -- where you have to have zero tolerance on something like
adultery, the cia is front and center. >> it's amazing when you talk about what that means in that culture, that he would expose himself to this. chuck todd, thank you very much. >> you got it. >> i want to bring in michael crowley, he's the deputy washington bureau chief. what do you make of the situation? >> well, it's a terrible sad thing. you know, general petraeus is one of the most respected figures in american public life, a guy who gets a lot of credit for turning around the iraq war from what looked like an unsalvageable situation. there is debate among the people that follow this closely about whether he got too much credit, but he has a lot of credit and respect. he's conducted himself in a tremendously dignified way. he's supremely educated, eloquent, smart, and great at what he does. it's a real shame to see a fall from grace from a guy that commanding respect from both sides of the aisle. there was a flurry of talk at
one point that mitt romney might choose him as his running mate. the people felt it was far-fetched, but it had democrats nervous. he's had somewhat awkward relationships with the white house because there was some concern he might seek the presidency himself. so for those who thought this guy might have a bright political future, i think that prospect has dimmed. people will speculate about and already are clearly about what this has to do with the terrible tragedy in benghazi. you know, we can only speculate about it right now. the only thing i would say to explain to viewers who may not have followed it that closely and are wondering why there's a connection is to say it does appear that the cia probably was primarily responsible for security at the consulate. the consulate annex appears to have been a cia compound of its own. some reporting has suggested that the state department thought that the cia kind of have the security part of that area taken care of encompassing
both the consulate and cia innext and clearly security was sub par despite warnings and concerns of people within the compound that they were not safe. so i don't know if there's any connection, but just if people wonder why that speculation would be there, there were a lot of people pointing fingers at the cia saying those are the guys who might have dropped the ball on this. right now we just don't know enough to say whether it has anything to do with it. it has been a high pressure moment for him regardless on the front. >> michael, not to say there's a connection between benghazi and the resignation, but the point there about the cia's role in the whole benghazi story, one of the fascinating things playing out here is some of petraeus's biggest champions in politics and on capitol hill, people like john mccain, for the first time after lionizing this give at five, six years really had tough questions for him and some critical comments about the cia. it was really interesting to see that dynamic shift in the last few weeks.
>> no doubt, steve. i think you're absolutely right. who knows if there's a connection, but since we talk about david petraeus and can't spec ate on the details of the affair, let's talk about what we do know. yes, even steadfast defenders were starting to be critical. i was pretty struck by some language that john mccain used in reference to general petraeus about whom republicans could say nothing bad for years. he was going to have to come up to capitol hill. i think it was next week, and he was going to testify behind closed doors about what happened in benghazi. so this was really probably the most politically uncomfortable leaving aside the stuff with the affair, just on the benghazi question, the most politically uncomfortable moment the guy has had since he reached the nashl stage. it had to be a hard time for him. where does he stand and fit in with things? he's been leading the agency into much deeper involvement in drone strikes and they're counterterror war.
he's a goo who championed counterinsurgency and almost nation building representing towards the targets, military style attacks. someone else will come in and pick up the ball in the cia. >> thanks so much. >> thank you. let's go to msnbc senior political analyst mark halpern if for more. mark, what are you hearing right now? >> well, to echo what michael said, there's lots we don't know, including the circumstances of the reason for his resignation. first of all, as andrew and others have suggested, this is a shock to the system of elites inside the belt way in the intelligence community and establishment in kwlektal and political circumstances. general petraeus is well-known nationally and well respected is extraordinarily well-known, well liked and well respected for inside players. that's a real shock for a locality of people on capitol hill in the executive branch, in the media. the president now has a real challenge, because he's going to
have to find a new secretary of state, almost certainly a new secretary of defense, now a new head of the cia. the balance of power in the senate will make confirmation easier, but if you think about all the short and medium-term issues involved here, all the controversy over benghazi, about which there's a lot of investigation, the controversies and complexities of dealing with the national security challenges, pakistan, afghanistan, iraq, all of these things would be a challenge if there was an existing cabinet. the president has it to find new people strong enough to get confirmed and strong enough to deal here. i think there will be endless speculation until we know more about the reasons for general petraeus revealing what he did and for his departure. there's no he questiquestion th under pressure. whenever there's tension and the political part of the executive branch and the cia and
intelligence community. you see a lot of high stakes pressure back and forth. sometimes there are threats. i'm not saying that's what happened in this case affecting the resignation, but there's no question that the political pressure on the state department, on the white house over the facts and circumstances of the tragedy in benghazi was creating tension, has created tension with the intelligence community and the cia. so at a minimum the context of general petraeus's resignation is a time of pretty heightened pressure on him with top political actors who have the tension over the way benghazi has been handled both before and after the tragedy. >> when you bring in the general was going in front of congress and offer testimony, now he'll have the deputy most likely. this congress in particular was very warm towards general petraeus, even though they couldn't take it easy on him on this. the next cia director has more of a challenge ahead of them i would believe, especially because this benghazi investigation is just going to
continue. >> well, it is. republicans -- it's going to be important to look at from a political point of view how aggressive they are. clearly at least part of the reason that this was such a hot issue, not just amongst republican members of congress but in the president on the ride, was because of the election. now that the election is over, there are clearly still serious questions to be examined. you hear that from partisans on the right but from a lot of for win policy analysts and intelligence analysts and members of congress in both parties. there are questions to be answered. there's no question that general petraeus's stature would have been made him effective to answer the questions. this is a case where the facts are going to matter a lot, and i think whoever has to go up and answer on these points, both from the cia and from the state department in particular, is going to be under some pressure to answer but not nearly as much as in the context of a competitive presidential campaign. >> we've been talking about the timing here with respect to to a
potential theoretical connection with benghazi. there's also the obvious timing this is right after athe election ended. safe to say he waited to submit this letter and make this public until the election had officially ended? >> i think pure speculation. look, it's an unusual statement. the petraeus family has to deal with a personal issue. my guess would be it's first and foremost what drove him to do this and the timing of it. we don't know. it's obviously at least a question to raise to say, is the timing connected to the election? we don't know enough now to say. we know that general petraeus is as i said in the beginning and others have said, widely respected and would only have -- this is an unusual moment in his career, because for the most part since he became a national figure he's really positive coverage, positive treatment. the personal tragedy of this for
him and his family is quite extreme, and in the coming hours and days, as the facts of this come out, we'll know a lot more about the circumstances and timing. that's the nature of and like that with somebody so high profile. the president has to deal with the investigation of benghazi and, as i said, rebuilding a national security team, which has been extraordinary close-knit and has functioned very efficiently. you may not agree with all the decisions. they've had foreign policy and intelligence setbacks, but if you look at as the president ran on, winding down the war in iraq, winding down the war in afghanistan on a different timetable, dealing with the pursuit of the war on terror in an aggressive manner, general petraeus has been a huge part of that, secretary clinton and secretary panetta follows secretary gates. foreign policy is a huge part of the next four years for this president. he needs a team of heavyweights as he's had in general petraeus. whatever you think of how he handled benghazi, he's a heavyweight without a doubt in
terms of national security experience, intelligence experience and his direction at the cia. >> can we widen the lens and talk about petraeus's career and rye mind people this person has been considered an american hero, a war hero. we just talked about a moment ago flirting with getting into the presidential race, and that would have been frightening for either side. this is an american hero. can you just remind people of some of those details before we focus on this personal mistake. >> four-star and, of course, all the four-stars think about getting the fifth star. someone whose popularity as a military leader compared to the modern era compared to secretary of state colin powell who had wide respect across the aisle. my sense was he was never that serious about running for elective office. it's a big change. two sources of his popularity and of his influence, one was this was a thinker.
he's an xwleintellectual as a government and military leader, and he thought a lot about modernizing the military. in a position like he had, commanding overseas in these complex wars the united states has been in, he dealt with the day-to-day operations but also was very forward thinking as a intellectual in thinking about what does the military look like next year, five years from now, ten years from now? the other thing is as people who have seen him perform at a press conference on television is a great communicator. not all the military leaders, not all the political leaders are great communicators and he is. i've seen him communicate in small groups. a handful of people in a room. slightly larger groups, but also on the stage at a briefing in front of congress. extraordinarily good at explaining things. not just his demeanor and intellect but that general skill of going on camera and communicate to the country. that's what people saw as a potential for someone who could be a political figure, but it made him and that i think you
saw in norman schwartzkopf and secretary powell. he's essential at a time when america is at war. he can go on camera before the american people and communicate plainly, simply and powerfully. that's what david petraeus excels at as an inside player and on the broader national stage. incredibly if he cannive. despite this horrible situation foirm and his family, we hope he's part of american life. he's truly one of the great leaders the country has. >> mark halpern, thanks so much. we'll bring in michael crowley. andrea mitchell floated the deputy cia director as a potential replacement for general petraeus? do you have any other insights? >> one thought comes to mind. i want to clarify that i learned about this story when i got here to your studio, so i haven't donnie e any reporting. john brennan was the initial pick in the winter of '08-09 to
lead the cia and there were questions about whether he was implicated in the bush era interrogation detention policies in a way unacceptable for the liberal base. obama decided not to have a confirmation fight on those issue and made brennan his guy in the basement almost directly below the oval office as his counterterror adviser. they say he's more policy as the counterterrorism adviser in the west wing than at the cia, but also may have been disappointed he didn't get that john. he works extremely long, hard hours when we're relaxing on holidays. he's monitoring threat assessments. he made need a break and may want to go to the private sector. if you're asking me who would be a natural candidate, that name comes right too mind. he was a potential candidate several years ago. in the next commercial break i would recommend viewers look up a "wall street journal" story that ran a week ago about blame directed at the cia sdpai i ia
petraeus. i have no idea if there's a connection to the revolution today. it was a striking story. rarely do you see people takes shots at petraeus like they did in the article. someone told the journal that petraeus went to a screening of the movie "argo" when the benghazi story was blowing up. the story was swirling, and someone leaked to the journal that petraeus went to this premiere or this screening and kind of made it seem like he wasn't taking it seriously enough, or he was a little checked out, or he was leaving other people to pick up the pieces. so who knows if there's a connection, but you know, what do we know? where was general petraeus? what was the political context for him up to the day. this is a guy already somewhat under political fire, so it's an interesting thing when we try to figure out the context of this story today. >> michael, can you comment on general petraeus's political
skills but his media skills? until the last few weeks since he came under fire, this guy was masterful at handling the press as cultivating press. he was personally responsive to reporters. how much do you think his ability, his sort of knowledge of how to sort of cultivate the press like that was key in the reputation that he earned over the last five or six years? >> sure. i think that many of the most successful people in washington are ones who have a skillful touch with the press. to take one example, i don't think mitt romney ever really had that, and i don't think it's the reason he lost. i don't think it was to his benefit. david petraeus was great at it. you know, i think he would go jogging with reporters in iraq. it was fun for reporters to keep up with him. he's in great physical shape. he was smart about the media. he cultivated a bunch of people
who were able to represent his views, particularly at the peak of the iraq war. i wonder whether the -- being at the cia made that more difficult for you. there's evidence that that benghazi story tangled everyone up. dial with covert classified events and locations that people aren't even really supposed to admit existed in the first place. so it may have been harder -- i think it was harder for him to defend himself. it may explain why the white house story lines are hard to follow and haven't made a lot of sense. i think everyone is talking around things they can't address directly. so, yes, to your basic question. i think his reputation was greatly served by his skillful touch with the press. since he's been at the cia he has a low profile because of the secrecy of the work he's doing. >> michael, you touched on some of the names that could be floated as a replacement. what type of experience would the president look for? what sort of qualifications do candidates for in job typically
have? >> they come from all different places. if you look at leon panetta, when he was running the cia, when he went to the cia people asked what kind of background did he have in the intelligence community? it wasn't particularly deep. he was in congress who had been a white house chief of staff, kind of an organization man. you had other cia directors that come up the ranks and they're real spy masters. petraeus came from the military. there has been a recent trend of senior intelligence officials nts government having military background. so that actually -- petraeus was a part of that wave of people who bring -- because we are having this merger in military and intelligence now, we identify threats and trouble spots and frequently we wind up sending special forces or drones our using targeted military actions to address threats.
you could see someone else come from the military. again, to return to this point briefly that i made earlier, the cia is increasingly being identified by its reliance on drones and drone strikes and that kind of military side of things. petraeus was steering it very much in that direction, so i guess if you're asking me to kind of take a guess at it, i would say you might see swuns from the military with that background come in. >> thank you for that insight. >> thank you. >> president obama just issued a statement on the petraeus resignation. let's get back to nbc's kristen welker for that. thank you, kristen. >> reporter: absolutely. we have a graphic of that statement. i'm going to read it to you now in full. this is from president obama. quote, david petraeus has provided extraordinary service to the united states for decade. by any measure, he was one of the outstanding general officers of his generation helping our military adapt to new challenges and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in iraq and
afghanistan where he helped our nation it to put those wars on a path to a responsible. as drekd orth of the cia, he has continued to serve with xhashgt stick intellectual rigor, dedication and patriotism. by any measure, through his lifetime of service he made our country safer and strong he. today i accepted his resignation as director of the central intelligence agency. i'm completely confident that the cia will continue to thrive and carry out the essential mission and i have the utmost confidence in michael more rul and the men and women of the cia that work every day to keep our nation safe. mihm thoughts and prayers are with david and holly petraeus. i wish them the best at this difficult time. the president bringing in holly petraeus to his comments and wishing them both the back. you heard them talking about act i director michael morrell. he is a career agency officer, started out an analyst with the
cia. so someone who has years of experience within the agency and bhos sort of ready to make this transition moving forward. they're under scrutiny given what happened in benghazi and all of the questions surrounding the handling of that incident. >> back to you. >> thank you very much. i want to bring in jonathan allen. your reaction to these developments? >> look, obviously on a personal level there's a lot of difficulty for the petraeus family. you know, in terms of the politics, this is a situation where obviously the president wants to put somebody in there pretty quickly to replace him. you know, i was listening a little earlier, some suggestions of folks or types of folks that might comment. certainly there are a number of of people in washington who have experience in the intelligence
community not only within the cia but outside of it. perhaps jane harmon, former congresswoman and top democrat in the house intelligence committee comes to mind as somebody from the outside. those are sort of my initial thoughts. >> we also know during -- when you release this kind of statement, you're in a crisis communication situation. it just doesn't happen by accident. there's got to be an underlying event. putting benghazi aaside, how concerned do you think they were about a second follow-up story to whatever caused this immediate resignation? >> well, i got confirmation from a source in the intelligence community shortly after this broke on msnbc. you know, the source that i spoke to suggested that there is a little bit more to this story, but wouldn't gt into detail about that. i don't know whether there's going to be a follow-up story. whether there is more to the story or if simply he believed that the aaffair was reason to resign. aas he said, it wasn't behavior befitting a leader.
the cia director's job is one in which having an extra-marital affair is potentially problematic. that subjects you to the possibility of blackmail or other types of problems with leverage against you. so it's sort of unique to that role or almost unique to that role in terms of that being a problem. you see that in intelligence agencies in general. a lot of the officers, you know, have -- the rules are basically very tight about not allowing yourself to be in a bad situation. >> john, do you have any sense of a time line when we knew about this, whenn the cia said e have to act and put this story out and move on? >> i certainly know that this was know before it broke?
obviously david petraeus put out a statement earlier today. there were other people and other leaders in the intelligence community that were informed of this before it became a news event, but i'm not sure when today that really happened. obviously, the white house was ready when it broke to respond to it, as was the cia. >> jonathan, how do you think at that the -- how would you assess the relationship to this point before all this between the white house and between petraeus at the cia? >> i think it's been pretty good. obviously, they moved him to the cia, got him out of the sort of battlefield sphere. this is somebody who has been well-respected by both sides in washington for a very long time. he was the author of the counterinsurgency strategy in iraq, and he is well-regarded not only for his knowledge of military affairs but his general grasp of a lot of areas of academic study. so he's somebody who i think most of the people have been involved with him, you know,
would say this is a loss for the country in terms of somebody who was a dedicated public servant. >> jonathan allen, thanks so much. >> take care. >> we want to bring back in mark halpern. secretary of state hillary clinton had been talking about moving on once the president was re-elect re-elected. will this put pressure on her and the administration to keep her in her post? >> if you look at the way president obama has built clusters of teams, a national security team or economic team, he's generally preferred to think about it in its totality, a team that can work together and complement each other. you've seen secretary clinton in recent interviews, at least one, leave open the possibility of staying on into the next year. while they look for a successor. since this is out the blue, the president ha to think comprehensively. and there's the question of secretary panetta and how soon he's going to go. my suspicion based on people i've talked to he'd like to go
relatively soon as well. although the election didn't focus on national security, there are a lot of big things that need to be done immediately in dealing with afghanistan, the war on terror in particular but also dealing with iraq, iran and the nuclear program there. all the other choices on national security around the world. i think that it wouldn't surprise me if now that the president has this big piece to worry about that if he tried to urge secretary clinton to stay on to think about that in its totality and how the pieces fit together. >> you talk about this a little bit before, mark, about how the petraeus c i ia should be chash rised, what sort of organization it was under him and how it might be different with the next leader? >> in the post-9/11 word our intelligence community has been reorganized. there's a greater unity of command control over intelligence gathering. as you know, the cia now plays a huge role in operations that we used to think as more being done
by the pentagon. all of the efforts or many of the efforts to pursue terrorists around the world are done now on the intelligence side as much or more than than on the pentagon side. general petraeus brought to this job a great deal of strength because of, obviously, his long career on the pentagon side in dealing with regular, non-intelligence parts of the defense establishment but also knowing a fair amount about intelligence as well. so this is a work in progress. general petraeus is say strong figure with a lot of influence. pretty tough for anyone who rises to senior levels was able to move things and continue to move things aalong in a way that most people think it needs to go. to have a robust intelligence community in the post-9/11 world. we'll have to say who the president comes up with. as we saw in the benghazi situation, but it wasn't the first time, there was some
tension between petraeus and the cia and the intelligence community and the state department and the pentagon. the kind of things you normally see, but not the kind of thing that this president tolerates. we've seen he very strong presidents like reagan and clinton, very strong in a lot of ways have within their national security establishments extraordinary conflict internally and spilling out into the open. you've seen in the case of this president even at a time with a lot of national security challenges, very few examples of that. while we wait to see exactly what the circumstances were around the general's resignation and to be clear you're already seeing on twitter from responsible voices a lot of speculation about why he resigned at this point based on his personal life but also benghazi and also the timing of the election as we talked about earlier. there's no doubt, there's no doubt that you're going to see a big debate and the president try to build a new national security team that gets alodnalong.
before benghazi there were the kind of tejss that peeked out a little bit, but behind the scenes the kind of tensions this president doesn't like and tolerate. when he's thinking about building, whether it's a campaign team or an economic team or national security team, he puppts a real premium on peoe getting along. general petraeus got this job under circumstances that were unorthodox and the question of him as a potential political threat, the question of a change from finding a new cia director who would be a strong figure and who republicans would respect. those factors, i think -- i don't know how big a role they played in the ultimate sdilgs-making of the president, but those factors were seen as part of why general petraeus was a smart choice, and those factors may have caused the president to put aside what he normally puts the absolute premium on, which is someone that plays nightly.
>> will hillary clinton stay or go? as part of building that team, with the inevitable questions about the timing of this departure, does it relate to benghazi, if hillary clinton does decide to leave, two of the top names floated are john kerry and u.n. ambassador susan rice, who has been caught up in the questions about benghazi. so if hillary clinton does leave, does that put more pressure on the president to go in a different direction other than susan rice? >> well, i'm only speculating now, because my reporting on this dates back to well before the election when i got a little bit focused there. i will say that if you talk to people in democratic establishment and political establishment on the hill and in national security circles, you do find that neither of those candidates is seen right now as a perfect choice. there are drawbacks to both of them. ambassador rice has a lot of supporters first and foremost, the president to be sure.
controversy over her public statements about benghazi give people pause about whether she's the right person with a confirmation process over, whether she's the right person for the job. in the case of senator kerry, there's doubts from some people about whether he'd be the perfect secretary of state. he was passed over four years ago for secretary clinton. if you took him out of that seat now, you'd have a special election to fill it. you might see scott brown attempt a comeback. neither of them is seen as by many people, not by all people but by some people, neither is seen as the absolute perfect dhois. they have drawbacks. who else might be considered? i think the national security adviser, tom donlon, if he were offered the job he would take it. secretary of state is considered about the best job for many people. joe biden said when he was a senator maybe he'd rather be be secretary of sfat rather than president and certainly vice president. it's considered one of the better jobs to have, a lot of
people aspire to get. the president has to think globally about a national security team. does tom donlon stay as national security adviser? an extraordinary amount of foreign policy is in this administration. it's like nixon and kissinger. big foreign policy designs are made in the white house by tom donlon and the president and vice president. you have to figure out that piece as well as now the cia job as well as secretary clinton, who would like to say as soon as possible. she did before. as i keep saying, secretary panetta. this president has been served by two extraordinarily gifted secretaries of defense. leon panetta that came from cia and before that bob gates. finding someone of that caliber is a real challenge. they have done an extraordinary job at a very demanding time for our military. >> thank you very much. excellent stuff today. we'll have much more on the
break being news about general petraeus after a little break. pit williams is following with breaking news from the supreme court. that help us pull it all together. from the things that hang and shine... ...to the things that sparkle and jingle. all while saving the things that go in our wallet. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. right now, get an assortment of martha stewart living ornamen,s free when you purchase select artificial trees.
♪ [ sighs ] [ bird chirps ] [ bird squawks ] ♪ [ bird screeching ] ♪ [ elevator bell dings ] [ sighs ] how mad is she? she kicked me out. but i took the best stuff. i'll get the wrench. ♪ [ male announcer ] kohler's tresham collection. life. with a twist. ♪ the big news this afternoon, four-star general and cia director david pete reduce has resigned citing an extra-marital affair. the president was told yesterday and accepted the redz nation today calling him one of the outstanding generals of his generation and saying he made our nation safer and stronger.
multiple sources tell nbc news that michael morell will be offered the acting director post. there is more breaks news. the supreme court has just agreed challenge to the landmark voting rights act. let's go to nbc news justice correspondent pete williams for more on that. >> this is one of the most important civil rights laws ever passed, passed in 1965, and what it says is that areas in the south and some other parts in the united states can't make any changes whatsoever in their election laws until they get permission from the federal government. shelby county, alabama, is saying things with changed in the south. we have more minority representation in congress, we have an african-american in the white house, the voting rights act is past its prime and should be declared unconstitutional. this is shaping up to be one of the most important terms ever for civil rights because the court has already considered possible changes to affirmative action in school admissions. now it's going to be taking up this voting rights act case. it took up a challenge to the
same law three years ago and came that close to striking it down saying it was concerned that congress was renewing the law but it was out of date in terms of where the problems in the country were. a strong message to congress three years ago that it could -- should consider updating the map of who is covered. congress did nothing, so i think that ups the ante that the conservatives on the court may be prepared to weaken this law greatly. they'll probably hear this case sometime in late february, steve. >> pete, what we're talking about -- what we're looking at is a lot of state legislatures adding voter i.d. laws which some think of voter suppression, voter intimidation. is the court looking to protect voters more from those things or give states more opportunity to do what they want in terms of asking for i.d.? >> reporter: this is not just about voter i.d.s, but the voting rights act is one of the laws that was used to strike down the voter i.d. laws in texas and south carolina. it's just an example of any kind of a change that a state wants
to make in its election laws, whether it's moving a polling place across the street, changing the number of county commissioners, cutting back on early voting or requiring voter i.d.s. if any of the states largely in the south or any of these others that have a history of discrimination want to make any changes, they have to get permission from the federal government. the states say they shouldn't have do that anymore. >> so states will be able to do whatever they want. >> reporter: well, now, part of the voting rights act if the court were to strike this down, we don't know what's going to happen, but that's a pretty good guess. if the court were to strike that part of the law down, it would leave another part of the law standing which says you can't do anything that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against minority voters, making it harder for them to vote, making it harder for them to elect the candidates of their choice. you could still sue the individual states, but the point is it reverses the burden of proof. as it is now, a state is presumed to be acting badly. it has to get permission from the government if it's covered by this law before it can make any changes in voting.
if that part of the law is struck down, then the states can do whatever they want but they would still be subject to lawsuits from people who were claiming they were discriminated against minority voters. >> when the voting rights act came up for renewal in 2006 i remember this issue of preclearance divided the republican party. where you had the northern republicans and democrats uniting but a bloc of i think it was 90 southern republicans saying no because of the preclearance issues. there's an enormous amount of political pressure coming from the south to get rid of preclearance it seems. >> reporter: and that's where this case comes from. you know, having not been able to get anything happening across the street here in congress, now the attention is on the supreme court. and you're right, the supreme court in three years ago said to congress, you know, we think the south has changed. we think the justification for this law has greatly been undercut. so congress, if you want to keep this law, you need to update the map. and i think that the supreme court probably has concluded that congress is unwilling or
unable to muster the political will to do that. it's very hard for congress to say, okay, now parts of the north, you know, we've never covered you before, but now that we look at it, you know, you've got some problems too, so let's expand the area covered by the voting rights act. that's going to be difficult to do politically. that's what raises the stakes for this case here. >> nbc's pete williams. thanks for joining us. another quick break. ♪ ♪ you make me happy when skies are gray ♪ [ female announcer ] you know exactly what it takes to make them feel better. ♪ you make me happy [ female announcer ] that's why you choose children's tylenol. the same brand your mom trusted for you when you were young. ♪ how much i love you [ humming ] [ female announcer ] children's tylenol, the #1 brand of pain and fever relief recommended by pediatricians and used by moms decade after decade. [ humming ]
resignation impact his legacy? >> that's a great question. for lack of a better term petraeus is a legend. he's one of the few generals in american history to get so much credit for so many things. this is going to be a strange note to end his career on. there's no question about it. >> phil, a lot of people are saying its his private life. what business is it of ours but when you're at the cia having an affair is an entire different thing, right? >> that's exactly right. it opens him up to questions about blackmail, to questions about being a security leak at the top of the intelligence establishment. >> what's the reaction across the defense community that you're hearing? >> surprise and shock. that's the first thing we heard from a lot of people. trace is a well-respected commander. he's been around for a long time. he saved the war in iraq, he saved the war in afghanistan. really stood up for the president when he had to get rid of another commander, general mcchrystal a couple years and take over this job. for this to happen when people
thought he was in the last duty station in his career has been a surprise for people across the military world. >> quickly, any idea who is next? >> i know the deputy is going to take over for now. i think that will be another round of musical chairs for the new term in the obama administration who will take over for preys at cia. >> phil, thanks. that does it for "the cycle." martin, it's yours. >> thank you. good afternoon. it's friday, november 9th. we're following breaking news, the director of the cia, general david petraeus, has resigned. ♪ we will get to the president and negotiations over the fiscal life in a moment. we have breaking news regarding general david petraeus who has just resigned as head of the cia. his resignation letter reads as follows. after being married for over 37 years, i showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. such behav